ST. PAUL -- Gov. Tim Walz plans to keep bars and restaurants in Minnesota closed for indoor service through the holidays. Walz is expected to make a formal announcement Wednesday on extending the restrictions he imposed last month for a four-week ``pause'' that was due to expire Friday.

Political insider Blois Olson says the governor's office has left the door open for the possibility of bringing back outdoor dining.

There is a sense that outdoor dining and gathering will be allowed at some level of capacity, the governor's office has not denied that fact.

The governor's order also closed fitness centers and other places where people gather, as well as high school and other organized sports. Olson says his sources tell him fitness centers will be allowed to start opening again on Saturday.

We do know that gyms will be allowed to open at 25 percent capacity, probably starting on Saturday.  There will be some new restrictions potentially 12 feet of social distancing in the gyms, potentially working out with a mask on.

He says the governor's office is still worried about another peak of the virus in January, and he'll make his argument today for keeping case numbers low to help get more kids back in the classroom after the first of the year.

Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association Executive Director Tony Chesak issued the following statement in response.

Today’s news is not only devastating, it’s shameful and unjust. Minnesota’s hospitality industry has complied in good faith with mask mandates, limited service, and yet has only seen 1.76% of COVID cases tracked back to bars and restaurants. The data driving the decisions are not transparent to the public and isn’t being used to make our collective actions smarter or safer for all involved.

Governor Walz’s order continues blanket rules that are resulting in the near elimination of an entire industry, employing thousands of Minnesotans. The paltry offering of limited outdoor dining in the middle of a Minnesota winter doesn’t even begin to make up for the forced closures. While Governor Walz’s dials turn, more and more of Minnesota’s restaurants and bars will be forced to turn their lights off permanently.

Walz's spokesman Teddy Tschann said late Tuesday the governor on Wednesday will also lay out a strategy that prioritizes in-person learning for elementary students.

The official announcement will come at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday which will be heard on WJON.

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